To the Point for 9/14/06

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VIOLENCE IS A FORCE that is permeating our society and our world; and as our planet moves closer and closer to world conflict, perhaps now is the time to step back and look at what we are doing to ourselves and to our children.

Does it surprise anyone that we are living in a society where violence has become almost common place? We introduce violent images to our children at a young age, and then stand back and wonder where all of that rage comes from when they become teenagers.

As a child, I remember that the scariest thing that I watched on television (back when there was just four channels, and they signed off at the end of the night) was a show called “Sammy Terry’s Nightmare Theater”. You may remember it, too, because at the beginning a cardboard coffin would open and this man with green facepaint and a purple robe (must have been a Fiji) would climb out and host a horror movie late at night.

I remember being terrified, first of all, of Sammy; and very rarely did I make it through the movie.

You remember those movies, don’t you? There was a werewolf and a “blob”, and a monster and a big lizard. They all looked like hand puppets, but they were scary just the same.

Today, you see much scarier stuff on prime time television. The popular shows deal with kidnapping and crime and murder investigations. Those shows are also very graphic in their depictions of what they are doing – a far cry from my green-faced fiend late on Saturday night.

The commercials take us and our children through a myriad of movie promos that keep us up and night. Yes, the movie is rated high enough that your children can’t see it, but the commercials are bad enough.

Then there’s “Fear Factor” and other risk taking shows. All of them show people taking unnecessary risks, and there’s a reward for those who take the biggest risks at the end of the program.

Professional wrestling has gone beyond Dick the Bruiser and Haystack Callhoun and on to graphic images of beatings and injury. They also now move into realms of the supernatural, and with lighting and sound, it also takes on an eerie tone.

Even sports puts a premium on violence today.

Hockey players extend their careers and make millions of dollars because they are the “enforcers” of the team. Many take pride – and get bonuses – for spending the most time in the penalty box and injuring the most players.

Our football players get as much press off of the field as on it, with newspapers filled almost daily with reports of athletes being charged in bar fights, domestic altercations, or with carrying handguns or resisting arrest.

But those athletes are paid to run fast and hit hard and take no prisoners. They are violence in action – and they are rewarded for it, regardless of the condition it ultimately leaves their body in as they age.

Video games are the most popular when they are the most violent. Popular music is filled with violent suggestions and lyrics.

It seems that no matter where we turn, we are constantly being exposed to violent tendencies and attitudes.

What’s next? Kill your own meat at a restaurant?

We expose ourselves and our children to all of this, then we can’t figure out why crime and killing is up in the streets. If the X-Box game gives a 14-year old bonus points for stealing a car and shooting a cop, then why won’t that same behavior be imitated in the real world?

I’m not a prude, and I believe that we have the ability to discern right from wrong; but we are assuming that the world is just like us.

Isn’t it interesting that when we see young people in a Third World country on television and see them resorting to violence; we often attribute it to “that’s their religion, that’s how they’ve been brought up, it’s the only thing they know.”

If it’s true for those areas of the country, then why do we deny that it can also contribute to the decay of our society, as well?

Violence and the exposure of our children to it needs to have limitations placed upon it. Without government intervention, as parents I believe that we can limit that exposure simply by refusing to purchase those things for our children.

Don’t buy the video game. Don’t watch the movie. Don’t celebrate your child’s aggression.

We live in a violent world – at it seems as though it becomes more and more so each and everyday.